Eat out, drink up A
Harvey Nicks’ Forth Floor deserves interest in its own right
What’s new? part II
Picking up where we left off last issue, here are a couple more new Edinburgh launches to sink your teeth into. Words: Barry Shelby
wo of the most successful and clearly popular recent
new openings in Edinburgh couldn't be more
different. One is part of a nationwide corporation with a huge budget. gobs of advance publicity and has its launch party grandiosely called the ‘social event of the year'. The other is a local operation with one previous outlet and a pronounced aversion to traditional PR — and it still fills seats with a diverse lot of Edinburghers (even the likes of one beleaguered Scottish Executive minister trying to forget current woes).
Unless you have unlimited disposable income. it's hard not to have mixed feelings about Harvey Nicks. This is a posh department store where a modest shopping spree could easy absorb half a year's wages. No wonder Meg Matthews loves the place.
Prices, however, are less daunting on the top level in the Forth Floor brasserie. Even the adjacent restaurant. by current standards. isn't outrageous — particularly as the cooking from the kitchen run by head chef Stuart Muir is indeed classy. The physical difference between the brasserie and restaurant is not drastic: if you fancy a window seat. y0u must book for the restaurant. wrth its starched white table dressings and fixed price menu.
Seared Oban scallops are impressive and clearly fresh from the sea. while grilled fillets of sea bass. stacked upon a leek ‘foundue‘. provide more evidence the chefs know what to do with fish. The iridescent menu covers are a bit of a bother and the descriptions inside are occasionally a bit dubious. “Cafe au lait' With the roast Barbary duck would seem to have more to do With its colour than any ingredients involved. although coffee does apparently play a minor role in the caramelised sauce.
1 14 THE LIST 19 Set) ii Oct 700?
Views of the off-side of the castle can be startling as
Smart and maybe slightly stiff. Forth Floor nevertheless deserves interest in its own right. even if you can't be bothered with designer labels and perfunie-wavmg sales women.
At the Outsider. you need look no farther than the wine list to see that you're in a restaurant with a difference: it has attitude. humour and intelligence. ‘Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles . . . let this wine take you to the caravan of your youth and the perfume of your nanny's bosom.‘ it says of a Santiago Merlot.
Over—the-top’? You bet. But it exemplifies that personality and iiidiyiduality cliaracteristics too often missmg — are here in abundance. That should come as no surprise for anyone who has eaten at the Apartment. where owners Mark Lawrence and Malcolm lnnes first got together.
This is not to say everything about the Outsider is perfect. Head room in the me/xanine is a bit limited and vegetarians might sense a bit of bias.
Portions are modestly priced. amply proportioned and well—prepared. ‘Soupy stirfries' include a hearty chori70. morcilla. chick peas. potato and pork belly stew (5.76.80) that is the afternoon 'kick up the knickers' that lnnes has been promising all summer. Still — and no disrespect to the chefs intended ~ the food may not be the lasting memory you take away. Ambience is lively and views of the off-side of the castle can be startling as twilight encroaches. It is impossible to imagine that eating here is evei a stilted affaii — although it could prove the ‘social event' of any given week.
I Fort/i F/oor; lilt'l/‘vei’ i’\/ic/io/s. I l~~ 13 South St Andrei/v Street, Fri/libulgli, 013/ 52/1 83:30; the Outs/(tel; lfP-lo‘ George IV Bridge. Edinburgh. 0131 2263/31.
An extra helping of news . . .
residents had better be pleased that the husband and wife team of Rupert and Aisla Staniforth are now in control of Gavin’s Mill. The couple did wonders in Glasgow’s West End with Number 16, earning Michelin notoriety while still running what was essentially a friendly, unpretentious neighbourhood restaurant. That’s the goal in the ’burbs as well, but here they have room for 60-odd covers in the ﬁrst floor restaurant while the ground floor space is now a soup kitchen for daytime nosh.
I FARFELU'S HEAD CHEF Kenny Coltman is heading across the Clyde soon to take over the reigns at Southbank in Giffnock (just what have the suburbs done to deserve such fortunes, which are supposed to favour the bold?). Owned by Alex Knight. spouse of one Carol Smillie. the restaurant is scheduled to open later this autumn. Coltman will be preparing many of the same type of dishes that put Farfelu on the culinary map. while Southbank aims to be family friendly. too.
I IN GLASGOW CITY CENTRE, Robert Mullen is shaking things up in Sauchiehall Street Lane. He has renamed the erstwhile Lane and done away with 24/7 hours. Now called Universal - reflecting what its appeal is meant to be — the first ﬂoor restaurant is licensed to stay open for diners until 1.30am and a late- night supper club is planned, too. A daytime bar menu is available on the ground floor.
I STOCKBRIDGE RESTAURANT in Edinburgh will soon have a recipe book by its chef/proprietor Juliet Lawrence Wilson published by Lomond. Some 70 dishes are included in Dinner with Juliet and photography comes courtesy of the always-dependable Alan Donaldson.